Just under a week to go until Christmas!
For many, it’s a joyful time of the year. For some, like myself, it’s one of the toughest times that a few don’t survive the New Year.
Personally I’ve always struggled with being happy and cheerful at Christmas. This started to happen when I was fourteen when someone who I loved dearly emigrated and after I reported sexual abuse that saw my mum turn against me. It’s because of this that I find Christmas unbearable and wish for the New Year to start.
If you were to ask anybody what Christmas is about they’d more than likely say family. The answer is different for everybody, of course but to some family is the core meaning for celebrating Christmas.
Being without a family at Christmas is difficult for anyone but when you live with a mental illness it’s just as devastating. Seeing adverts of happy families in the TV sitting down to Christmas dinner with people gathered around the table leaves me feeling deflated and often alone. Christmas songs can send my mood plummeting within seconds of playing along with general chatter as well.
It’s not just a lack of family that adds to the Christmas blues. Having depression and anxiety sucks every ounce of happiness from my body and soul on the days that have little significance. Being surrounded by cheer and joy has a different effect on different people. Some take solace from it where others feel smothered.
When you’re sad and miserable at such a time it can prove to be difficult. There is pressure to be happy, to act happy and to revel in the festivities. To not do so, to some, seems pessimistic. I’ve been told many times to suck it up and smile. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy it because I do. I don’t find it easy being happy all the month through. It’s a personal struggle for me.
Christmas, for me is about compassion. Remembering to be kind and helpful to those around me. That gives me a sense of purpose and helps me through. As does writing and music.
Although I am saddened by the lack of family and find the days hard because of my mental illness I am so grateful for what I do have. A loving husband and two siblings who make me smile every day.
If you know anyone that is struggling because of mental illness or otherwise, please be a friend to them. There’s nothing more heartwarming to a person who is struggling than a friendly face.
Wishing you a very Happy Christmas.
With warmth and kindest wishes,
With thanks to Luke Pamer for the image via Unsplash.com